What to Do in the Event of Extreme Cold
In Florida, we can experience extreme temperatures, which can impact our most vulnerable populations, and affect critical support systems, such as the power grid. Extreme cold conditions are caused by strong cold fronts that move through the state and northerly winds behind the front which brings cold air and blustery winds southward into Florida.
Review your five steps on your Pathways to Preparedness.
Find alternative housing, if you do not have access to heat.
Dress appropriately for the weather.
Drink plenty of water.
Postpone outdoor activities.
Listen to public safety officials for information.
Be aware of future weather conditions.
Terms to Know
- Wind Chill
- When strong winds combine with cold outside conditions, the heat loss from a person’s skin can be accelerated. This is called the wind chill. The wind chill can make it feel like it is much colder outside than what the actual temperature is.
- A freeze occurs anytime the temperatures fall below freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit) for a prolonged period of time.
In Brevard County, freezing temperatures can have a great impact on the citrus industry. If temperatures reach freezing levels for extended periods of time, combined with other climatic factors, then crop or landscape damage may occur. This would have a significant impact on Brevard’s economy and employment base.
Additionally, consumer demand of electricity during periods of extreme cold weather may require the electric utility to implement rolling blackouts to selected areas in order to avert a total electrical grid overload, which can have a significant impact on electrically-dependent critical facilities and persons.
The locations most vulnerable to severe winter weather in Brevard County would be agricultural lands. Because Brevard lies on the cusp of the Semi Tropical and Tropical climate zones, it is conducive growing a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. However, the climate that supports such unique vegetative diversity also makes it susceptible to extreme temperature changes. When extremely cold, the effects the county can be seen in areas that grow more tropical fruits. Nurseries and growers in northern parts of the county in Scottsmoor, Titusville, and Mims would be most susceptible. Many residents also have tropical fruit trees and backyard gardens; therefore, all of the county would experience some level of vulnerability to this hazard.
- The County has experienced several damaging freezes in the past 20 years, including in 2000-2001, when the county was part of a Presidential Disaster Declaration.
- In early January 2010, an unusual period of cold temperatures occurred over several days which caused some damage to the area’s citrus crop.
- Starting on January 21, 2009, Brevard County experienced sub-freezing temperatures for three consecutive nights. Wind chill readings in the 20s also occurred during the morning of the 21st. The coldest morning at most locations was on the 22nd, when hard freeze conditions spread south across many locations of the interior peninsula to Lake Okeechobee. Official temperature sites reached the mid to upper 20s, with a NWS Cooperative site at Scottsmoor in Northwest Brevard County reaching 22 degrees. Sub-freezing minimum readings and widespread frost occurred on the 23rd. Only the barrier islands south of Cape Canaveral remained at or slightly above freezing throughout the event.
- In 2010, several strong cold fronts brought reinforcing arctic air masses into east central Florida over a consecutive 12-day period. From January 2 through January 14, high temperatures did not exceed 60 degrees on nine to 12 days, with several days recording high temperatures only in the 40s. Several low maximum temperature records were set. During this period, low temperatures fell to or below 40 degrees for 12 consecutive mornings across nearly all of east central Florida. Six to nine mornings saw temperatures fall to 32 degrees or less. Many areas experienced low temperatures in the mid to upper 20s, with a few isolated, rural spots falling to near 20 degrees. Several record low temperature records were set. Frost occurred during several mornings. Long durations of temperatures in the 20s damaged or killed a considerable amount of vegetation, with agricultural crops, citrus, and ornamental flowers. Agricultural reports estimate a third of the Florida Winter fruit and vegetable production were lost, causing hundreds of millions of dollars in losses (state-wide). Also, winds remained near 10 mph on several nights, producing wind chill values in the teens and lower 20s.